Baseball jumps out to strong start with exciting opening game against OPRF


Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Brooks

Before Evanston brought in current head Coach Frank Consiglio, we weren’t known for having a particularly strong baseball program. But since his hiring in 2007, and with a completely revamped coaching staff, Evanston has become a real force to be reckoned with in the CSL. Last season, the Kits advanced all the way to the sectional semifinals in the IHSA playoffs. With an almost completely new team this year after 18 seniors graduated in 2021, Evanston is trying to continue the success that team carried with them throughout their entire season. 

Despite having the majority of the team gone from the previous year, Coach Consiglio explained that the firepower is still there.

“It actually isn’t too much of a different team. We returned our catcher. We returned our number one pitcher, our shortstop, and a couple of outfielders. It was a junior heavy team last year as far as who played, so we’re bringing back much more experience than it looks on paper.”

As far as positions go, this team has a TON of players who can pitch, something that Consiglio knows is crucial for a team to have if it wants to be competitive this season.

“Yeah, this team is pitching heavy. You’ve got Hank Liss, Jared Lortie, Clive Harvey, Mason Denlow, Owen Brooks, Charlie Kalil, Eron Vega, Alex Vasquez. I mean, it’s just like everybody can pitch. Which is a nice feeling. So we have some depth in the pitchers.”

That talent has been on display to begin the season,  as the Wildkits have jumped out to a strong 5-2 start. In the season opener against OPRF, the same program that ended Evanston’s remarkable playoff run last year, the Kits dialed up revenge in the form of a 9-3 win in an away game at Triton College.In fact, the win was especially sweet not only because it was against the same team that ended Evanston’s 2021 season, but it was played on the same field that run ended on as well. Solid starting pitching from junior Hank Liss combined with an explosion of runs—at least one in every inning past the third, as well as five runs in the seventh—sealed the deal for the Kits. 

Sophomore Charlie Kalil elaborated on the excitement of starting the year off with a win against a top 20 team in the state.

“This win was really cool because they beat us last year on the same field. [It was a] pretty similar team from last year so this was our revenge game. And we ended up just putting it on,” Kalil states “It felt really good playing well in the first game against a really high caliber team. Just knocking them off and never letting them come back.”

Four days later on Mar. 21, the Kits won at Conant, 10-6. In spite of making two fielding errors and allowing seven total walks, Evanston managed to prevail in a rather messy game due to classic Illinois “spring” weather. As a matter of fact, weather was the reason for three cancellations between Mar. 21 and Mar. 28, meaning that the Wildkits instead enjoyed a week off of games in what was set to be a full week. 

Once the weather started cooperating again, Evanston beat the Dons of Notre Dame College Prep, 8-7, in a thrilling game that resulted in a walk-off sacrifice fly by sophomore Eron Vega. The Kits were down by five runs heading into the sixth, but rallied after continuously getting baserunners on, to cut the score to 7-6. They were also the benefactors of a pivotal 2-out error by Notre Dame. After holding the Dons in the top of the seventh, junior Brandon Brokowski and Vega hit back to back sac flies. Brokowski’s scored a run, while also sending senior Alex Vasquez to third after he tagged from second. With Vasquez on third and one out, Vega’s liner to left gave Vasquez enough time to tag up, leading to a walk off win in epic fashion for the Kits.

The undefeated start came to an end however, as the Wildkits dropped two games to Whitney Young and Lane Tech, both  powerhouse Chicago teams ranked in the top 15 of MaxPreps most recent rankings for Class 4A Illinois baseball. Whitney Young beat Evanston 3-0 in a night game in the city that was cut short due to snowy conditions. On Apr. 1, Evanston met up with Lane Tech at the Kerry Wood Cubs Field, falling 9-2. They recovered on April 4 with a 10-5 win over Hersey, and the next day, beat Ridgewood 5-1. 

The Wildkits hot start has proven that not only can they tally wins, they’re going to be serious competitors the remainder of this year. Kicking off the season 5-2 against quality opponents is no small feat. 

However, Consiglio has his eyes set on conference play.

“I mean, the CSL South is one of the toughest conferences in the state. It’s loaded. It tests your depth, but I think our best against their best we can definitely show up.”